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tv   Miller Center and the First Year Project  CSPAN  August 20, 2017 2:26pm-2:56pm EDT

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and, you can't do that just by reading about it. people really have no concept about nuclear weapons and how they work, how expensive they are to maintain, the destructive capabilities they have. what we do here is provide a framework for people to think about those kinds of questions. to get those kinds of answers so they can make their own decisions about how they want to influence the future of nuclear weapons in the world. i think that as a national historic landmark site this facility is performing an important role now as it did during the cold war when it was
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part of our frontline defense. i still think we have to get the tax bill out of committee and the civil rights bill passed the house. we got to get started in the senate and have a minimum of time. >> lyndon johnson recaptured it very well, the promise of the first you. you are elected. you have a mandate working with the congress. as lyndon johnson said when he became president, no matter how big the majority you get, you have one year before they, the congress, starts thinking about themselves, their own reelection. at about january of your second year at the have done your first year, all the members of congress are thinking about their midterm election. they are really cautious about taking any risks to help you get your mandate and your agenda
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through. earlych is why presidents on in their administration persevere to get things done. they feel this is the moment they will never have again. they are also learning the ropes. they are not as experienced as they will be in four or five years so sometimes i make mistakes. this is why the first year, the first few months is so important in setting the agenda for their later activities. >> a lot of law firms and the news media leaders and others were such an important element of government. in washington. i underestimated that. >> jimmy carter was an outsider to washington. that was why jimmy carter was elected. in the post-watergate period, he was able to say i am not of an. i am from georgia.
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i was the governor of georgia. i am never going to lie to you. i'm a born again christian. he was able to separate himself from the mucka nd mire of watergate. budget donald trump presented himself to the american people to say i'm not a politician. i've never served in government before. jimmy carter told us in his oral history he thought he would be fine in terms of his experiences as a chief executive of a state. he had been in atlanta as the governor of georgia. he said when i got to washington it was very different from what i expected. president carter: i do not have any obligations. very few members of congress or members of the major lobbying groups or distinguished former democratic leaders played was a role in my election. of thes not that tie off campaign interrelationships that would have occurred had a not
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been able to witness -- win this nomination by myself. i think they felt they were on the outside. it is a cautionary tale for outsiders come in and to the white house did it is also a cautionary tale for thinking you know enough and to get by and those first few months and realize you do not know yo. >> is a project we have been working on for three years. 2015 when i first started talking to the miller center about how we take our historical assets that we have built through oral history and transcribed the secret of office recording. our network of practitioners we in touch with.
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we taken it forward to the current president that we are designing a president building. ofis essentially a series case studies and directed interviews with those people about the challenge of taking over the most important and hardest job. even when george h.w. bush took over for ronald reagan it was a hostile takeover. it is not a easy thing to do for the peoplered all because they wanted to put their own stamp on the executive branch. you bring in a new set of people , a fresh perspective and a new set of voices. also challenges. no matter how experienced a campaign is working as a team they have not been in that position before. there is promised and a first year and there is peril. we were trying to capture what
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those teams are created >> the first and they have to do is they have to rely on trusted advisors. presidents are human beings, they do not know everything. they have to find a trusted advisors. this is a trap, the most trusted advisors of a new resident is someone who help them on the campaign. someone who is politically super skilled but not necessarily a the new expert did president has to let go of his political advisers that got him elected and find a team of very people to educate him on what are the main issues that i am going to race? the choice of advisors is the most important thing a new president can do. one of the key things of building a team is making sure they work together. george w. bush had a very experienced group of people around him. it was an all-star team in many ways.
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colin powell, donald rumsfeld, and condoleezza rice. one problem, they hated each other. that is not going to serve the president well if his team does not function well as a group. those differences of opinion, style, personality only got greater as they were exposed in the midst of the crisis of 9/11. finding a team that not only serves the president well but works well together is extremely difficult to do. >> there is an inevitable first year crisis, almost always something on the national security side. >> last night i ordered u.s. military forces to panama. no president takes such action lightly. >> in george h.w. bush's administration, they had a crisis in october.
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he came in saying noriega had to go from office. he was a dictator in panama connected to the drug trade. >> for nearly two years, the united states and nations of latin america have worked together to resolve the crisis in panama. the goals of the united states have been to safeguard the lives of americans, to defend democracy in panama, to combat drug trafficking, and to protect the integrity of the panama canal trade. >> this is a pretty consistent refrain from president bush that he was going to see noriega go. they hear about a coup plot from junior military officers in the noriega regime. there are different cabinet secretaries in that
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administration who had different reactions in whether or not they should get involved in that. the mixed signals ended up leading to a failed coup in panama. now we have a crisis. we have a coup against someone present bush said should go. different cabinet members responding firmly. president bush appears to have egg on his face. >> we talked to dick cheney, former member of the house of representatives, someone with lots of washington experience, two different branches of government, and this is what vice president cheney was pointing out to us. think of the people who were surrounding george h.w. bush. you had a retired general, colin powell, and dick cheney himself. he said, we had the 18 in foreign affairs, yet their first
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foreign affairs crisis was a coup in panama. he admitted, he said, while we were a great group of individuals with a lot of experience foreign policy and defense policy, we had not worked together as a team yet. that took some time for us to get going as a team. he said, we made some mistakes. >> we learned a lot as a team how to work and function. one problem you have with any new administration, even one as experienced as ours -- we were not amateurs -- it is hard. there is no training ground or senior civilian political leaders in an administration. >> our view is if that team made mistakes, think how much harder it is for a president with no
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washington experience, no foreign-policy experience, no defense policy experience, and no work in washington with the levers of power in the centers of power in the capital. >> we find ourselves groping to know the full sense and meaning of these times in which we live. in our quest of understanding, we deceive god's guidance and some are knowledge of the past. we bring all of our with and will -- wits and will to answer the question, how far have we come in man's pilgrimage from darkness to the light? >> eisenhower was a soldier, so he knew you never knew what was around the corner. the phrase he used his plans are worthless, but planning is everything.
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it means you don't know what is coming. you cannot see the future. you have to anticipate a variety of scenarios and plan around the possibility that five or six things may happen. your team has to be in the habit of planning. they have to talk to each other. they have to have a plan for how they take intelligence, interpret it, and map out possible consequences. what will this mean for the budget? what will it mean for our military performance, nuclear deployments? they must always be planning ahead for a variety of scenarios so that if any one of them happens or something happens that looks a little bit like plan a, the present has the beginnings of a plan already in place. john kennedy. everybody loves john kennedy. we think of him as an admirable and tragic figure. in his first you months, he made a serious mistake.
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he was not sure how to handle this great problem of cuba. he allowed a process that was already in place, the invasion of cuba to unfold. that was april, 1961. >> let the record show that our restraint is not inexhaustible. should it ever appeared that the inner american doctrine of non-interference merely conceals or excuses a policy of nonaction, if the nations of this hemisphere should fail to meet their commitments against outside communist penetration, then i want it clearly understood that this government will not hesitate in meeting its primary obligation, which are the security of our nation. >> what should he have done differently?
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he did not subject that plan to sufficient rigor. he did not go through this area is. he did not go through a long period of thoughtful analysis. he felt he needed to act bold. he felt he needed to show that he was a hawk, that he was an active president. he criticized eisenhower for being asleep at the wheel. he said invading cuba, that sounds like a bold plan. it was a fiasco. it was a disaster. anyone looking at plans could have predicted it. kennedy learned from that mistake. he ratcheted back his activism. he became significantly more restraint. he became much more wary of pre-existing plans. >> a had such a disaster in his first year with the bay of pigs that he decided in the midst of the cuban missile crisis, i need to make a record of this. i need to have what i said to my
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advisors. he reported himself in his telephone conversations and meetings. the secret kind close doors -- behind closed doors meetings he had in the midst of the cuban missile crisis, you get here. one of my favorites is a phone conversation he had with former president eisenhower. he calls him in the midst of the cuban missile crisis to say, what should i do? am i doing the right thing? [indiscernible] >> they take any spot in the world. they don't care where it is. are you in such a place -- [inaudible] they get to and they probe. when you cannot do anything, you
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another place, then they go ahead. i think you are doing exactly right. let them know that you will not be the aggressor. you always have the right thing to determine it again. >> i will keep in touch with you, general. thank you. >> he was hawkish. it is remarkable. the roles were reversed. kennedy was arguing for more restraint. eisenhower, he was a you have to go forth, and they cuba. it was an incredible moment of presidents talking and learning from each other. it does not happen as often as
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it should in part because of party politics that get in the way. as all presidents have said, nobody knows what the job is like except for another president. >> the present has to be thinking of what it is like in the first year. the most successful presidents are those who take one or two points of policy and they make that case over and over again. as soon as they get into the white house, they hit the ground running, and they begin working on those two or three points of policy. >> bill clinton was elected, and he got elected on the mantra it is the economy, stupid. i say this with great affection. i think he was a terrific president. suddenly the military became the issue of the day because he answer a question in a press conference. >> the issue is not whether or not there should be on the
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essentials in the military. everyone concedes there are. the issue is whether or not men and women who can and have served with distinction should be excluded from military service solely on the basis of their status. i believe they should not. >> because he was not prepared for the politics of that and the governing challenges of that priority, it came up off hand at a press conference, he ended up losing three months to that policy. >> ronald reagan is another good example. we associate him with a major moment in american history because he resided over the beginnings of the end of the cold war. [applause]
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>> mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall. >> reagan was elected to increase defense spending, but he was elected principally on an argument that government should be shrunk and welfare should be transformed. the budget should be balanced. he was going to be a conservative in the white house. that was his ticket to victory. he wanted to focus on domestic affairs as well. of course, the contrast with the carter years was dramatic. well, he set out a goal at the beginning to end the cold war, tilde defense spending -- build up defense spending, and he did those things, and those defined his presidency. >> i will promise you as your president, i will raise the bar. i will insist on accountability
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systems that refuse to leave children behind. we will put in place programs that will say we will give our children the building blocks to learn to read. we will challenge people to meet the high expectations. you mark my words what leadership can provide. it will provide an education system that says we are not going to leave anybody behind. america will be better off for it. >> george w. bush also had a very successful year after following the pattern of ronald reagan. be very specific in your campaign about two or three things. in his case, it was lower taxes, education reform, stand strong in the world but don't try to do regime change. these were several things he said in the campaign. he gets into office. what does he do? he reaches out to ted kennedy on the other side of the i'll and political -- aisle and political
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spectrum, a liberal in the most liberal sense of the word. he invited ted kennedy and his family to the white house after the moderation. -- inauguration. he said the new movie 13 days just came out about the cuban missile crisis, would you like to watch it? >> all these things were about this trust developing, this relationship, this common cause of can we get something done? they both have their own equities. they both believed they should do a better job of educating kids. >> you can imagine the brother of president kennedy sitting there with president bush in the white house talking about how they wanted to work together on some big issues. was it going to be health care, education reform?
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he started reaching out across the lines from the early days of the administration. george w. bush was elected as a compassionate conservative. school reform is the one issue where he is going to make that mark. on september 10, the day before september 11, they had a white house summit on education policy. the next day, he flies down to florida and is doing an event at a school in florida reading to students. that iconic picture of his eight whispering into his ear that america has been attacked. they remember that because of the attack on america. they don't remember it because he was trying to move education reform forward in a bipartisan way. that same day, laura bush was in the capital with ted kennedy.
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the s seven that is what they are trying to accomplish. able to pass this legislation. that's a great example of a president reaching across party lines no way from the first weeks in office this is something he wanted to do even in a moment of crisis, sticking with it while they were planning the war in afghanistan to respond to the 9/11 attacks. they are still moving forward with that legislation in a bar -- in a bipartisan way. >> lyndon johnson remarkably had to first years. he had the first year of his presidency as an -- after the assassination of president kennedy and once he helped the country get through the sadness and the grief over that, he began moving forward very quickly and by that next summer, president kennedy was
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assassinated in november of 1963, by july of 1964, lyndon johnson had passed through the house and senate, the 19 64 civil rights bill. reelected by a landslide in november of 1964, he takes his official oath of office to become a president in his own right in 1965 and passes the voting rights act. medicaid, medicare, the great society is up and running within that first year of his official presidency to which he was elected. >> every candidate feels, if i can only be in the oval office and have my hands on the levers of power, i could turn this country around. what they find is constitutionally, the presidency is limited. it's designed that way. it's designed so the president cannot instantly put into place a dramatic change of governance.
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sure, the personable change on the ideology may change but the relationship with congress and the relationship with the courts, these things constrain residential power and very effectively. add to that a large bureaucracy through which you have to drive your policy choices and you find that the president's power is constrained. there are moments early in a presidential term where you may feel you have a great opportunity. president obama passing the health care bill, focusing on that in the first couple of years of his presidency is a textbook example. it's because he had a significant majority in the congress, he had the mandate of the people and he had a lot of popularity and he pushed through the health care bill that he felt was going to be his legacy. >> today, after almost a century of trying, today, after over a year of debate, today, after all the votes have been tallied
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health insurance reform becomes law in the united states of america. [applause] >> whether you like the bill or not, it's a great moment of presidential leadership because after he did that come his power began to weaken as it always does. >> we are done. [applause] >> one of the major pitfalls it seems to me in that first year's inexperience. we have had a number of presidents and recent years reacting to washington and presenting themselves to the people as not part of the evil washington, not part of the mock and mire of daily politics. and so we have had people coming from governorship and have it reagan and carter and clinton and then we have had trump who we say has had no political experience in any city in the
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country or any state. so that this person is coming in with a fresh start. that is the good news for the american people who tend to view washington, if not evil, then corrupt. that's a good thing for a person to be elected and run on that kind of platform. it's more problematic for governance. how quickly a president pivots from running for office, politicking, too governing can make all the difference in the world. can they grasp the levers of power? can they get what washington is about? can they understand working with washington media? can they understand working with capitol hill and how that actually will carry itself out? >> the first year is an especially vulnerable moment for new presidents. all presidents face crises all the time. it's nonstop crises one after the other when you were president but when you are right in the first year, you are at
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your most vulnerable. if something goes wrong in their first few months and their first year, and they may not yet have clear answers or have clear goals or they may not have a great team around them to deal with it. the first year is a moment when if something goes wrong, it can expose a new presidents weaknesses or insecurity or inexperience. the miller center is focused on this first year moment as a way to gauge what can go wrong and what do you need to do to anticipate those problems. >> the other five things i would say to president trump is focus on personnel, process, your priorities, the politics of getting your priorities done, and how you communicate as a person, how you carry yourself as a person. every president has failed in all five of those. don't be too flustered by any particular failure. it's like to give a baseball. a 300 batting average will get you in the hall of fame. learn from your failures and work with others to succeed. >> i would say that the problems are more difficult than i
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imagined them to be. the responsibility are greater than i imagined them to be and there are greater limitations upon our ability to bring about a favorable result than i had imagined them to be. i think that's probably true of anyone who becomes president because there is such a difference tween those who advise or speak or legislate and the man who must select from the various alternatives proposed and say that this shall be the will of the united states. it's much easier to make the speech is that it is to finally make the judgment.

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